Why Did God Make Me?

A lesson inspired by the Baltimore catechism

The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel
The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo, on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, in the Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy. Lucas Schifres/Getty Images

At the intersection of philosophy and theology lies one question: Why does man exist? Various philosophers and theologians have attempted to address this question on the basis of their own beliefs and philosophical systems. In the modern world, perhaps the most common answer is that man exists because a random series of events culminated in our species. But at best, such an answer addresses a different question—namely, how did man come to be?—and not why.

The Catholic Church, however, addresses the right question. Why does man exist? Or, to put it in more colloquial terms, Why did God make me?

What Does the Baltimore Catechism Say?

Question 6 of the Baltimore Catechism, found in Lesson First of the First Communion Edition and Lesson First of the Confirmation Edition, frames the question and answer this way:

Question: Why did God make you?

Answer: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.

To Know Him

One of the most common answers to the question "Why did God make man?" among Christians in recent decades has been "Because He was lonely." Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. God is the perfect being; loneliness stems from imperfection. He is also the perfect community; while He is One God, He is also Three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—all of Whom, of course, are perfect, since all are God.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (para. 293) reminds us, "Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: 'The world was made for the glory of God.'" Creation testifies to that glory, and man is the pinnacle of God's creation. In coming to know Him through His creation and through Revelation, we can better testify to His glory.

His perfection—the very reason He could not have been "lonely"—is made manifest (the Fathers of Vatican I declared) "through the benefits which he bestows on creatures." And man, collectively and individually, is chief among those creatures.

To Love Him

God made me, and you, and every other man or woman who has ever lived or ever will live, to love Him. The word love has sadly lost much of its deepest meaning today when we use it as a synonym for like or even don't hate. But even if we struggle to understand what love really means, God understands it perfectly. Not only is He perfect love; but His perfect love lies at the very heart of the Trinity. A man and a woman become "one flesh" when united in the Sacrament of Marriage; but they never achieve the unity that is the essence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

But when we say that God made us to love Him, we mean that He made us to share in the love that the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity have for one another. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, our souls are infused with sanctifying grace, the very life of God. As that sanctifying grace increases through the Sacrament of Confirmation and our cooperation with God's Will, we are drawn further into His inner life—into the love that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit shares, and that we witnessed in God's plan for salvation: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life" (John 3:16).

To Serve Him

Creation not only manifests God's perfect love but His goodness. The world and all that is in it are ordered to Him; that is why, as we discussed above, we can come to know Him through His creation. And by cooperating in His plan for creation, we draw closer to Him.

That's what it means to "serve" God. For many people today, the word serve has distasteful connotations; we think of it in terms of a lesser person serving a greater one, and in our democratic age, we can't stand the idea of hierarchy. But God is greater than us—He created us and sustains us in being, after all—and He knows what is best for us. In serving Him, we serve ourselves as well, in the sense that each of us becomes the person that God wishes us to be.

When we choose not to serve God—when we sin—we disturb the order of creation.

The first sin—the Original Sin of Adam and Eve—brought death and suffering into the world. But all of our sins—mortal or venial, major or minor—have a similar, though less drastic effect.

To Be Happy With Him Forever

That is, unless we're speaking of the effect that those sins have on our souls. When God made me and you and everyone else, He intended for us to be drawn into the very life of the Trinity and to enjoy eternal happiness. But He gave us the freedom to make that choice. When we choose to sin, we deny knowing Him, we refuse to return His love with love of our own, and we declare that we will not serve Him. And by rejecting all the reasons why God made man, we also reject His ultimate plan for us: to be happy with Him forever, in Heaven and the world to come.